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Every day tens of millions of Americans go to work without going into an office. Contractors, property managers, and farmers are just some of the sole proprietors who see mobile devices not just as a stopgap, but as their primary and most valuable form of business technology. For these independent professionals, the smart phone and/or tablet is their office. One of the fastest growing segments of the workforce, these B2B buyers have particularly high demands for mobile interactions, both in product research and purchase transactions. To be successful in B2B ecommerce, sellers must to cater to their needs or risk losing their sizable business.
How big is the mobile workforce? The International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasts that by 2020, there will be more than 100 million mobile workers in the U.S., accounting for almost 75% of the total workforce. While some are office-based mobile workers, many no longer rely on an office at all. A few decades ago, small businesses usually depended upon office-based admin support, even if their work was in the field – literally, in the case of agriculture – or figuratively if it was construction or repair. Now many businesses already handle their own client calls, marketing, and billing through their mobile devices. Dropping the office overhead, which included rent, staff, and a bulky desktop computer, is just part of their new focus on increasing efficiencies.
Today mobile devices allow them to bring their office directly to their clients. They can show examples of previous work, or ideas for new projects. They can solve problems and show solutions by doing online research. They can present client pricing in minutes, rather than days as was the norm in the past. Best of all, they can buy while they’re working rather than having to wait until they get to their home office, and keep up to date with delivery schedules, budgets, etc. Online stores such as yours enable them to do business when and where they want to.
Put simply, all-mobile buyers want everything. Bring on the content – installation guides/videos, parts diagrams, part-fit checks, and replacement tips. Speedy price comparisons so they can quote prices to clients and decide options for jobs. Inventory status so they can give clients accurate timelines. Easy checkout, which includes options for shipping times and third-party wallets. Quick re-order forms so orders can be placed on the job site.
And don’t forget to treat your B2B customers as VIPs, with service and pricing discounts. They want quick responses from customer service agents – by email and phone – and they’d like a dedicated account manager who is readily available to answer questions for new orders and big orders. Make sure you include these B2B ecommerce features.
The first barrier to shopping on your site is easy to spot and absolutely fatal. If your online store isn’t optimized for mobile, it will be super slow, and your navigation may not work. Fix that first. Once that’s done, do an audit and make sure you have full product details integrated into product pages, with a link to additional manufacturer detail. Don’t make shoppers create an account and log in to see pricing details – if they can’t see pricing at your site, they’ll move on. If they can’t see inventory levels or estimated shipping times, they’ll find someone who can give them the info without a phone call. Beyond mobile-specific, you don’t want to skip any of the standard B2B features, either.
What happens if the all-mobile B2B buyers don’t find what they want? In the best-case scenario, they’ll telephone your team for help. But chances are more likely that they’ll visit a competitor’s website, purchase from Amazon, or give up and try to find it at a brick-and-mortar store.
Here is a quick overview of what you should make sure to do to win over all-mobile business buyers:
The good news is that once these buyers find an online merchant who fulfills their needs they’re likely to be extremely loyal. For these on-the-go professionals who are usually paid by the hour, there’s little point spending lots of time comparison shopping just to save a few dollars. Time is, above all else, money for them.
Elisa Williams is a journalist and communications strategist who combines storytelling with solid research and analysis. A contributing author to the Miva Blog, Elisa has written for a wide array of consumer, business and technology publications, including Newsweek, Real Simple, Computer Life and Inc. Her marketing and content development work includes supporting technology companies that specialize in ecommerce, financial services and big data.
Miva offers a flexible and adaptable ecommerce platform that evolves with businesses and allows them to drive sales, maximize average order value, cut overhead costs, and increase revenue. Miva has been helping businesses realize their ecommerce potential for over 20 years and empowering retail, wholesale, and direct-to-consumer sellers across all industries to transform their business through ecommerce.